Writer Niruban Balachandran, who invited “Nas Daily” vlogger Nuseir Yassin (Nas) to Indonesia, says that it was wrong for the blogger to have been denied a visa to visit the country.
Both Mr. Balachandran and Nas are Harvard alumni, and Mr. Balachandran reached out to the vlogger via email to invite him to visit Indonesia as a gift to his wife, who is reportedly one of Nas’ biggest fans in Indonesia. The vlogger responded to Mr. Balachandran right away.
Upon learning that Nas is a Palestinian with an Israeli passport, Mr. Balachandran even flew to Singapore to aid with the special application for the visa needed in Indonesia for citizens of Israel.
According to Mr. Balachandran, Nas told him all about his plans to extensively feature Indonesia in his daily vlog. As Nas had written when he announced to his followers that he was denied entry into Indonesia, “I wanted to show the world the beauty of Indonesia in the most apolitical, pure way possible.”
Nas had gone through the tedious process of applying for a visa to Indonesia for Israelis, including many documents, interviews and visits to the embassy very carefully, but ended up getting denied anyway.
When he announced that he would not be able to visit the country, thousands of people wrote not only to support him, but to offer many suggestions for him to actually get into the country.
Mr. Balachandran asks in his article in The Jakarta Post, “It is worth asking if Indonesia’s rejection of Nas actually helps the Palestinians.”
He further claims, “If we want to increase peace in this divided world, then Indonesians, Palestinians and Israelis need to talk.”
Mr. Balachandran asserts that many counties already have diplomatic relations with both Palestine and Israel, and that “Not empathizing with all countries also lowers Indonesia’s reputation as a peacemaker and bridge-builder on the global stage.”
And since Indonesia is a newly-minted member of the United Nations Security Council, it needs to engage in negotiations on multi-religious and multicultural environments, and not choose to exclusively side with one party.
Aside from this, Indonesia has much to gain from Nas’ input in the country, as he would feature Indonesia’s many languages, ethnicities and islands through his vlog, which has 8 million subscribers.
Similarly, Indonesia could learn a lot from interactions with an Israeli—Nas.
He writes, I have much respect for Indonesians, but many have a serious blind spot when they incorrectly mix up governments’ policies with harmless Israelis like Nas.”
Nas’ vlogs would bring invaluable exposure of Indonesia, long regarded as an “invisible giant” in Asia, as would the country’s decision to open diplomatic talks with both Israel and Palestine.
According to Mr. Balachandran, “Nas is a tireless exponent of the indispensable philosophy that it’s better to bring people together than to divide them. To my wife and me, Nas represents some of the best of humankind: respectful of other cultures, hardworking, friendly and curious. He also embodies what people like about Israelis.
The most effective geostrategic asset we can bring to this Indonesian-Palestinian-Israeli challenge is a peaceful heart.”